Lemon Law

What is the Lemon Law?

The real name of the California lemon law is the Consumer Warranty Act. It governs the warranty, which is the manufacturer's, promise to repair the vehicle if something goes wrong with it. At its most basic, the Lemon Law requires anyone who promises to repair a vehicle, to keep their promise, or to give you a refund it if they don't. Specifically, it requires whoever warrants the vehicle to repair it within "a reasonable number of attempts". It also requires you to give them an opportunity to repair it. Just take the car to them and say;

"Here's the car. This is the problem. Please fix it."

Always be courteous. There is no need to talk lawyers or lemon Law with the dealer. It does not help, and may make it harder to get repairs or paperwork. The lemon law does not tell us what is a reasonable number, so it can vary, depending upon the kind of problem you have.

Paperwork is very important in these cases, so make sure that you keep all of your 1) purchase documents, and 2) all of your repair orders. DON'T keep them in the car, because all too often they will disappear.

What qualifies as a "Lemon"?

The Lemon Law requires that the vehicle has a "non conformity to warranty" thatsubstantially impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle to the buyer.

The #1 Myth

It is not necessary to have a certain number of repairs within the first year or first 18,000 miles, no matter what you may have heard.

The Consumer's Obligation

The manufacturer must be given a reasonable opportunity to make the repairs.


Arbitration is a rigged game. It is run by the manufacturers, for the manufacturers.

What is covered?

The Lemon Law applies to any vehicle with a warranty. The Lemon Law even applies to used vehicles that come with a warranty from the Dealer.

What You Recover

If the vehicle is a lemon, the consumer is entitled to recover the money he or she put into the vehicle.

The Manufacturer's Obligation

The problem must be a substantial one in order to qualify. It must be one that significantly impairs the use, value, or safety of the vehicle.

How to protect yourself

If you think you may a lemon, be sure to keep good records. When you take the vehicle in to the dealer, tell them specifically what the problem is and describe it in detail.

Who pays the fee?

The Lemon Law is a "fee shifting" statute.

Protect Your Rights

The lemon law requirements are very technical, and the assistance of a lawyer is important to protect your rights.

San Diego Lemon Law Center | The Law Office of Michael E. Lindsey
Tel: (858) 270-7000 Fax: (858) 270-7710 | 4455 Morena Blvd., Ste. 207 San Diego, CA, 92117 (see map)

General Information Only

The information in the San Diego Lemon Law Center pages is for general information only and is not intended to be taken as legal advice. If you have a specific legal question or problem, please feel free to contact us or you should promptly consult with an Attorney handling such matters in your area for advice.